Pennsylvania bill: Allow doctors to deny treatment, medicine on religious grounds
Nick Langewis
Published: Sunday February 17, 2008

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Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1255, also called the Conscientious Objection Act, would absolve medical care providers of liability in cases where reproductive care was denied based on a practitioner's religious or moral beliefs.

Services a provider would be free to withhold, with immunity, include performing an abortion, artificial insemination, and prescribing birth control or emergency contraception (also known as the "morning-after pill").

"There shall be no cause of action against a health care provider for declining to participate in a health care service that violates his or her conscience," the bill reads. "A health care institution that declines to provide or participate in a health care service that violates its conscience," it adds, "shall not be civilly, criminally or administratively liable."

"I intend with this bill," says Senator John Eichelberger (R-Altoona) to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "to make it very clear that people in health care and in medical institutions would be held harmless if they for religious reasons decide not to provide procedures for abortion or contraception."

"I think it's pretty awful that a medical professional sworn to do no harm would use this excuse to kill a woman," counters National Organization for Women activist Jeanne Clark, on the prospect of a patient being denied emergency care with the blessing of the state.

A full copy of the bill is available to read in PDF format HERE, as obtained from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.